Top 15 Scenic Roads with the Natural Beauty in the U.S
The natural beauty of the United States can be best appreciated on a road trip. The landscapes and views along any of these routes are truly breathtaking. It’s time to pack up the car, put some gas in it, and hit the road! But don’t forget to stop playing your road trip games so you can take in the sights.
The top 15 most scenic drives in the United States should not be missed.
Famous Highway 1 in California stretches for much of the length of the state’s Pacific coast and offers drivers breathtaking views the whole way.
When you think of California, you may think of beaches lined with palm trees, but the drive along Highway 1 (Pacific Coast Highway) from San Diego up the northern coast of the state to San Francisco is far from that. You’ll come across towering redwood trees, rocky coastlines, historic bridges, and a whole lot of morning fog. Don’t leave Pebble Beach without driving along the famous 17-Mile Drive.
The route passes through the world-famous Big Sur region, as well as the historic Golden Gate Bridge and miles upon miles of breathtaking coastline.
Route: San Diego to San Francisco
The Florida Keys are located south of Miami and can be reached via Route 1, the Overseas Highway. From scenic savannas to the islands home to the largest concentration of coral reefs in the country, this 113-mile journey has it all.
The road links a series of islands, so you’ll cross many bridges that raise you high above the water and make you feel like you’re sailing. The longest of these spans is almost seven miles.
The Overseas Highway has some of the best scenery in the world. It crosses the ocean and passes through the Florida Keys for a total of 106 miles, as you might expect. Keep an eye out for the Old Seven Mile Bridge, a major architectural achievement from 1912. It connects Knights Key and Little Duck Key.
Route: Key Largo to Key West
You’ve seen US Route 163 in Forrest Gump. Forrest gets “pretty tired” and decides to head home because of it. Fortunately, this isn’t a typical running route, so you can feel safe taking your car (though a convertible wouldn’t hurt). Seeing Monument Valley is the only real incentive for this trip, and it’s well worth the effort.
Route: Kayenta, Arizona, to Bluff, Utah
The Hana Highway, or “Road to Hana,” is a famous route in Maui. The journey itself only takes a few hours, but there is so much to see along the way that you might want to spend the night in Hana to give yourself more time. Stop for a slice of banana bread or a shaved ice if you’re feeling hungry on the road.
Route: Kahului to Hana
This well-known route, which is also one of the country’s picturesque backroads, has been dubbed the most beautiful highway in America. It climbs to high altitudes close to the northeast entrance of Yellowstone National Park. When I was there recently, I had planned to go there after Yellowstone, but the morning we were supposed to drive there with the first snowfall, they closed it!
Winding through 68 miles of untamed Montana and Wyoming countryside, this All American Road leads you into Yellowstone National Park. Numerous animals, a great deal of mountainous terrain, and, of course, breathtaking bird’s-eye views of the region from as high as 10,947 feet are all to be expected.
Route: South of Red Lodge to the Northeast Entrance to Yellowstone
The 440-mile Cascade Loop circles some of the most picturesque regions of Washington. You’ll see a ton of mountains and farmland, pass by Puget Sound, and make a full loop back to your starting point. You just need to choose whether to drive the loop in a clockwise or counterclockwise direction—either way is fine.)
Route: Everett, all the way back to Everett
You are welcome to refer to it as “The Kanc” as the locals do. The Kancamagus Highway is beautiful all year round, but autumn is when the leaves are at their most vibrant. Just so you know, the leaves typically begin to change in mid-to late September and reach their peak in mid-October. Visit the 120-foot Albany Covered Bridge, which was built in 1858, for a glimpse into the past.
Route: Lincoln to Conway
Okay, so this isn’t a road-specific post, but who doesn’t enjoy a good drive across a bridge? Recalling itself as the “Covered Bridge Capital of the World,” Parke County, Indiana, is replete with historic bridges, which should come as no surprise. Whether the photo ops are over a body of water or outside a covered bridge, you’re sure to have a ton of fun, so allow plenty of time for stops.
Route: The bridges are scattered throughout Parke County, so pick your route
The best way to see the Rocky Mountains if you’re not into skiing Colorado’s black diamond slopes is via Trail Ridge Road. The road travels 48 miles through the park’s Rocky Mountains, reaching a maximum elevation of 12,183 feet (hello, altitude training). You’ll reach Rainbow Curve about thirty miles into the drive; look out the window to see Beaver Ponds and the valley below, covered in pines.
Route: Grand Park to Estes Lake
You get a taste of everything on this drive through Maine’s western mountains, including farms, lakes, rivers, valleys, forests, and a variety of wildlife. Despite being only 35.6 miles long, the trip can take up to 2.5 hours if you stop along the way, as you should. Hot tip: Take a detour to Smalls Falls (on Route 4) for a picnic during lunch, and while you eat, take in the breathtaking waterfall views.
Toward the northern region of California, Pacific Coast Highway joins Highway 101, and the 101 then serves as Oregon’s version of PCH. You can expect ocean views and lots of big mounds (shout out to the famous Haystack Rock) poking out of the waters along the shore.
Route: California State Line to Washington State Line
The Gulf Coast isn’t just a college spring break destination — it’s also home to the Coastal Connection Scenic Byway, which runs around Mobile Bay, offering 130 miles of laid-back southern beach vibes along the way.
Route: I-10 north of Grand Bay to I-10 north of Daphne
Following along the shores of Lake Michigan on the Leelanau Peninsula, this 116-mile drive takes you through the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore — one of Michigan’s most beautiful beaches — and drops you off in Traverse City. (Psst! Traverse City is known for its vineyards, just sayin’.)
Route: Manistee to Traverse City
Travel a portion of the famed Route 66 through the Ozark Mountains in the United States. Thanks to Nat King Cole and the fact that Route 66 was the first all-weather highway in the country, people have been having a great time on the route for years. In Missouri, I-44 has largely taken the place of the route, but historical markers and rest areas along the way attest to the history that lies beneath the surface.
Route: St. Louis to Joplin
Alaska’s first highway was actually this beautiful drive. As you travel through this northern region, you’ll never have trouble catching a good view thanks to the views of the snow-capped Chugach Mountains rising above.
Route: Valdez to Fairbanks
So great, you will be able to draw missing roads on Google Maps or edit the wrong ones. Check out how this tool works?
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